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Archive for January, 2015

New Green Roof Homes “Sprouting” in Sydney


  • BRENDAN WONG REAL ESTATE REPORTER/inner west courier inner city

Three new terrace homes featuring green roofs covered with native plants that can grow in small amounts of soil with minimal water are going up in Newtown, Australia- a suburb located just 4 miles from the Sydney Central Business District.

Similar in concept to vertical gardens, the new green roofs will help provide thermal and acoustic insulation to three bedroom, two bathroom homes. Homes that also feature solar heating, a courtyard for added green space, and a lockup garage that can be converted into a fourth bedroom for car-free residents.

Architect and builder Oliver Steele says the idea behind the terraces is to build upscale dwellings that are energy efficient and have a low carbon footprint. “Everything from the foundations to the paint selection has been considered on an environmentally friendly basis. The concrete for the constructions is recycled. The windows are double glazed and low e-coated so they will be extremely energy efficient. The paints and interior finishes will be zero or low VOC so they’re not off-gassing, which is common in new houses. In terms of the design, we’ve used a lot of thermal mass and heavy insulation so the houses create their own comfortable year-round internal temperature independent of the fluctuations of summer and winter and without the need for air-conditioning.”

Natural ventilation was an important consideration in designing the homes. “There is an internal pond under the staircase and a retractable glass roof over the staircase which creates an internal atrium,” Mr. Steele says. “You get light coming down the middle of the house and any air that does warm up in summer will rise up out of the roof and draw in the cold air from the lower levels.”

The new homes will be ready for occupancy in April, 2015.

Can green building make Chinese cities more competitive?


Published on 13 Nov 2014 Written by Christopher Gray Posted in International

The historic climate change agreement between China and the United States provides the green building community with another excellent opportunity to evaluate our movement’s importance to China’s long-term economic and environmental forecast. The fact that LEED has already become a major driver of market transformation in China has been extensively documented in USGBC’s LEED in Motion: Greater China report published earlier this year, but this article focuses on how green building fits into the complex puzzle of China’s overarching economic and demographic trends.

Given current conditions and projections, it is clear that China’s best chance of reaching its goal of capping carbon emissions by the year 2030 is to focus on a rapid green transformation of its urban centers. The most logical first step in this process would be to focus on the transformation of China’s built environment, not only in established international cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, but also in China’s emerging industrial megacities. Making this form of investment would not only improve the quality of life for China’s enormous urban population, it also has the potential of elevating the economic and cultural competitiveness.

Traditionally, this question has been answered based on a wide range of factors: population, the presence of ‘high culture’, industry, geographic location, historical importance and wealth have all formed the basis of our perception regarding how important a city (and its inhabitants) really are to the world.

The significance of these general indicators isn’t likely to fade out completely over the next 100 years, but given current projections regarding urbanization and global warming in the 21st century, we can be fairly certain that the meaningfulness of these historically transcendent cultural, political and economic markers will begin to fade in order to be replaced by some radically new green concepts.

The UN projects that at least 2.5 billion people will be added to the world’s urban population by 2050, with the majority of that increase occurring in countries in Asia and Africa.

China, which already has the world’s largest urban population with 758 million urban dwellers, will add an additional 292 million people to its cities during this time.

Chinese business leaders and civic officials, who are also facing tightening internal pressure for better environmental conditions from their people, have few better options than to concentrate on greening the living and working conditions of their largest new and emerging cities.

Because many of the long-term impacts of climate change (water shortages, floods, droughts, sea level rise, the increase in frequency and intensity of severe weather) are only beginning to occur, many of the achievements of green buildings are currently seen as positive features versus essential economic conditions. This perception will change as the negative effects of climate change become more frequent and severe, and the necessity of living in a city with a built environment that maximizes its water resources uses energy efficiently and effectively and utilizes smart urban planning and design to minimize travel distances for its citizens becomes more obvious.

Cities that are unable to rely upon the sustainable design of their built environment will struggle to compete with their internal and international competitors for a number of reasons.

Chinese cities, which are currently in the same industrial stage of economic development that older, previously developed cities in the United States, Europe, and Japan have long vacated, are still heavily reliant on economic activities that are largely dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. As momentum builds toward the establishment of an international consensus aimed at phasing out these very activities, Chinese industrial cities will need to be able to dramatically reduce the emissions attributed to their built environment if they have any hope of avoiding harmful economic disruptions while they transition toward greener methods of industrial production.

As newer, more recently developed cities in China attempt to reach their full economic, social and political potential they too will need to focus on controlling the environmental impacts of their built environment. Failure to make important investments in global, internationally recognized green rating systems like LEED today will make avoiding large economic and social disruptions tomorrow a difficult proposition to manage.

Christopher Gray

Media & Communications Specialist



How a hotel chain led green buildings in India

Published on 20 Nov 2014 Written by Prasanto Kumar Roy Posted in LEED

When Hillary Clinton landed in New Delhi in 2009, she drove from the airport to ITC Green Center, a building in the satellite town of Gurgaon.

That building, which she called “a monument to the future,” is the headquarters of the hotels division of Kolkata-based conglomerate ITC.

In 2005, ITC Green Center became the world’s largest office building to be certified LEED Platinum.

The building reuses and recycles all water, and daylight lights up all offices inside, while insulated glass keeps out heat. All this has reduced energy consumption by half. It cost 10-12 percent more than a typical building, but the company says it’s recovered the investment.

If it’s unusual for a middle-aged hotel to go for an extreme green-building rating, it’s more remarkable that every one of the ten luxury hotels in the ITC group now carries a LEED Platinum certificate.

ITC’s was the first hotel chain in India to incorporate green as business strategy, part of its “triple bottom line”—people, planet and profit. Among its elements are an annual sustainability report, and even a sustainability app for smartphones.

It also claims to be the greenest hotel chain in the world. That’s difficult to verify, but the top LEED rating for all luxury hotels shows up in each of them, in a distinct way.

Three miles away, the Windsor Hotel gets all of its energy from its own wind farms. A couple of hundred miles away in Chennai on India’s eastern coast, the ITC Grand Chola is now the world’s largest LEED Platinum hotel. Far away in Kolkata, the Sonar is the world’s first luxury hotel to earn carbon credits under the carbon trading regime, according to ITC.

 Green building boom

As of May 1, India had 1,657 construction projects registered with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), many of them already LEED-certified. Outside of the US, that puts India in the top three countries for USGBC, after Canada (4,068) and just ahead of China (1,638). China, however, has larger buildings, and is thus ahead of India when measured by registered and certified space.

The ITC Hotels group has led the way in luxury hotels, but many smaller hotels and resorts have also adopted green techniques, though not all of them may be certified.

India is severely starved of energy, and a big chunk of its energy needs are met through imports. Its oil import bill was $144b in fiscal 2013, a big reason for its $88b current account deficit (exports minus imports) in the same year.

Green buildings, ten years old in India, have been too few and far between to make a difference. Now, they’re just about reaching critical mass. It’s interesting that a luxury hotels chain—a sector seen as over-the-top consumerist and wasteful—helped lead this change.


USGBC acknowledges World Green Building Council

Published on 20 Nov 2014  Written by Judith Webb, APR Posted in International

USGBC was honored as a winner of the United Nation’s top environmental accolade, theChampions of the Earth award.

In accepting the award in the category of entrepreneurial vision, USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi acknowledged the role of the World Green Building Council (WGBC) and its 100+ member councils in driving the global green building movement that the award recognized.

The award, which usually honors a single individual, was won by USGBC for its outstanding contribution to sustainable building practices worldwide and the immense impacts of those practices.

Rick said he was “deeply honored to accept this Champions of the Earth award on behalf of the thousands of USGBC members, volunteers, LEED professionals and staff and the global green building movement at large, including the 100+ World Green Building Council members from around the world.”

“This is a community that has come to deeply understand how much our buildings and communities are also our first line of defense in battling climate change and the final piece of a complex puzzle in how we create communities that enhance our lives, not compromise them,” he continued, noting that, “green building is not just about market transformation. It’s about human transformation.”

WGBC CEO Jane Henley, who was on hand for the gala, said, “If the UNEP research estimates that buildings contribute as much as one third of total global greenhouse gas emissions are correct, then it’s up to every one of our more than 100 green building council members of WGBC to lead their countries by example and continue the tireless work of creating buildings that are energy-efficient, water-efficient, daylight-filled, toxin- and-pollutant-free structures, and placing them in walkable communities with access to fresh food and green space, with recycling and composting.”

“It will take all of us working together,” she said, “to fashion these places that protect our planet and nourish our souls. And we’re creating more of them every day, thanks to WGBC members all over the globe.”

Champions of the Earth is the United Nations’ flagship environmental award launched in 2005 that recognizes outstanding visionaries and leaders in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship, and civil society action. Whether by helping to improve the management of natural resources, demonstrating new ways to tackle climate change or raising awareness of emerging environmental challenges.

Champions of the Earth should serve as an inspiration for transformative action across the world. Past laureates have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Al Gore, Felipe Calderon, Mohamed Nasheed, Marina Silva, Vinod Khosla and many other such exemplary leaders on the environment and development front.

Judith Webb, APR

Senior Vice President, Marketing & Strategy

USGBC staff


The future of green travel

Published on 24 Nov 2014Written by Kunal GulatiPosted in Industry

After inventing the wheel, humans were on a roll. Modes of transportation increasingly became a priority as we navigated slowly around the globe. Exploration was made possible through advanced iterations of early horse-carriages, which eventually turned into the first automobile.

As we continued to grow, so did our carbon footprint. Helping reduce the waste we leave behind when we travel forth, this article explores the ever-increasing trend of traveling green, from the obvious choice of bike-sharing and electric cars, airplanes have also joined the game of green travel.

 Traveling by bicycle

Historically, riding a bicycle has always been the only zero-emission way of traveling. Whether you ride a fix-geared bike through the streets of Brooklyn or a 13” folder bike that gets you to work in LA, bicycles designed for every taste. Buildings seeking LEED certification can pursue the Bicycle Facilities credit, encouraging people to ditch their mechanical gas-guzzling counterparts by providing bike storage and shower rooms and choosing locations that incorporate bicycle networks.

In order to encourage environmentally friendly commuter options, bike sharing programs have also been implemented in many cities around the world. According to Gizmodo, bike sharing programs are evident in over 600 cities around the world.

Traveling by car

Automobiles were the first big success story of the 19th century. Not only did it revolutionize travel, it did so extremely quickly. The evolution of the modern automobile speedily let us travel and transport from one place to another while reducing time. In the past ten years, however, cars have decided to jump on the green travel bandwagon.

We have come a long way since the first electric car prototype built by Thomas Parker in 1859 that did not meet the real world needs of the market at the time. Over a century later, there was revived interest in alternative fuels and the need for a powerful machine that would stray away from consuming gas. Designed for the modern man, the hybrid gave the green building revolution variety. Hybrid cars, while they can be higher on the initial cost, provide yearly savings between $600-$800.

Buildings can be a part of the movement as well, receiving LEED points for setting aside parking for green vehicles and suppling electric vehicle charging stations or liquid, gas, or battery facilities. Whether your ride is completely electric, a hybrid or uses some other type of alternative fuel, driving is becoming greener and smarter.

 Traveling by plane

Airplanes are designed to provide a fast and comfortable experience for today’s avid traveler but with the rising cost of jet fuel and subsequent emissions, how green do we really travel when traveling by flight?

In 2010, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) dedicated 125 million in contracts towards green technology dedicated to clean travel proposals. Subsequently, they developed the Continuous Low Energy, Emissions, and Noise (CLEEN) program meant to reduce commercial jet fuel consumptions, harmful emissions, and excessive noise. Administrator Randy Babbitt confirmed, “The FAA is working with the aviation community to aggressively meet critical environmental and energy goals.”

Meanwhile, in 2003, visionaries at Boeing decided to implement a new breed of airplanes that would come to travel over 330 million revenue miles flown as of this winter. This airplane would eventually be known as the 787 Dreamliner. Taking flight in 2009, the 787 Dreamliner is redefining what it means to create an airplane capable of encouraging performance in water efficiency, resource conservation, energy usage, etc.

Using carbon laminate substances, the 787 Dreamliner became the world’s first major airplane to use 50% composite materials in its primary construction material. Furthermore, the 787 Dreamliner consumes less fuel and produces fewer emissions than its predecessors using a trademarked engine and airframe design, quietest twin-aisle airplane 70% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from early jet airplanes and 90% reduction or 30dB quieter.

 Choosing to travel green

Travel has always been about exploring our natural habitats around the globe. Nurture has given us an option to create different means of exploring the world.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.” —Hans Christian Andersen.

Whether you travel by bike, car, or airplane, paint your next destination green.

Kunal Gulati

Product Marketing Specialist



What will California’s water resources look like at the end of the century?

Published on 24 Nov 2014 Posted in Community

A great deal of research on climate change over the last decade has focused on changes to the hydrologic cycle—the continuous process by which water is circulated throughout the earth and the atmosphere—which naturally impacts water supply. These changes—earlier spring snowmelt, increased evaporation from higher temperatures, and more frequent and intense droughts—are obvious. And the changes are alarming. Water suppliers and large water users simply cannot afford to ignore climate change as they plan for the future.

Many water suppliers have begun to consider how climate will affect their water supplies, whether it is from a lake or river, stored behind a dam, or drawn from underground aquifers. Not as much attention has been paid to the other side of the equation: What will climate change do to water consumption?

Most people familiar with the state of climate change expect that a warmer climate will drive up water demand for landscapes and the inevitable evaporative cooling. Yet there has been little research on this subject and even less practical guidance for water planners and managers.

Two recent research projects have contributed to this emerging field of study, to better predict how climate change will affect future water demand. In 2012, the Pacific Institute developed a planning tool focused on the state of California that forecasts water use out to the year 2100. A year later, in 2013, the Water Research Foundation published a nationwide study, “Changes in Water Use under Regional Climate Change Scenarios.”

Both of these groundbreaking studies demonstrated how climate change can help predict future urban water use. USGBC worked closely with climate scientists to translate the output from their models into information on water demand for use by water managers. Work focused mostly on how temperatures are causing an increase in evaporation and water lost to the atmosphere by plants. In California, as in much of the West, more than half of publicly supplied water is used outdoors. Some of this is used for washing cars or sidewalks, or for filling pools and spas, but most is for landscape irrigation.


Sustainability at McDonald’s through LEED volume

Published on 25 Nov 2014 Posted in Industry

LEED certification

The McDonald’s Corporation is involved in an ongoing LEED volume initiative that pushes the company to build 25 green McDonald’s restaurants between 2013 and 2016. Ric owns two of these in Cary, and he is probably the only owner-operator to claim that distinction.

The first LEED certified McDonald’s in Cary was the Kildaire Farm Road location, renovated in 2009. The area’s most recent LEED restaurant, which opened in 2013 on Walnut Street in the Crossroads area, has taken sustainability several steps further.

Charging station

One of the first things you will see when you walk up to the restaurant is the free electric car charging station adjacent to the building.  McDonald’s is the only Cary restaurant offering this free service.

Solar power

When the former building at Crossroads was torn down and the new construction began, one of the first things built was the solar array in the parking lot.  A  large solar canopy covering 12 parking spaces and holding 132 photovoltaic panels. These panels generate 39.7 Kilowatts per day, roughly 10% of the restaurant’s daily power usage. The restaurant converts the power from solar direct current to usable alternating current in-house, where it can be used immediately.

The initial solar investment will make a return on the initial investment in about four years and, after that time, the power he generates will continue to save the restaurant money on their energy costs.

The panels have a life expectancy of 50-75 years with solid efficiency through the first 35. If the building were to be replaced (like the last one) the panels would remain.

Natural light

In addition to solar panels, the restaurant also contains solar tubes to light the interior. There are three tubes in the dining room, one in each restroom, and one in the crew room. These greatly reduce the need for electric light in the store’s interior, further reducing electric costs.

LED lighting

The restaurant is lit with 100% Cree’s LED lighting. Although the initial investment to switch all lighting to LED bulbs is more expensive, these bulbs use much less power and last for years. This cuts down on energy usage, replacement costs, and the labor used to change the bulbs.

Energy efficient

All the appliances within the store are Energy Star rated, which means that they save on energy usage and have a longer usage life.

Reduced resources consumption

The restaurant’s landscaping is done completely with drought tolerant native plants that are not irrigated, thus saving on water. All plumbing fixtures reduce water consumption by 30% including toilets, timers on sinks, and urinals. The fryers in the store are Low Oil Volume and use 30-40% less oil. The used oil is sold to an outside company that recycles it into biodiesel fuel.

Good business sense

Obtaining the Gold LEED certification was icing on the cake for this LEED Volume McDonald’s. To Ric Richards, it was not only the right thing to do—it just made good business sense. By putting in all of these sustainable practices, he is able to see cost savings of 24% on his energy bill.

How does he know this? He can compare energy costs of this 7000 square foot 24-hour establishment with his non-LEED certified 24-hour restaurants. This restaurant uses 651,490 kWh, while other traditional restaurants of the same size use 862,026 kWh.

Going green is good for the environment and the wallet. It just makes sense.


How resilience and sustainability are shaping concrete solutions

Published on 3 Dec 2014 Written by Kevin P. Mlutkowski Posted in Industry

Globally, so many communities face multidimensional threats, hazards, and disasters. And, as social and economic loss from these impacts continues to increase, development with a renewed focus on sustainability and resilience can offer opportunities for mitigating the financial, environmental, and community impacts from these events. Communities continue to advocate for increased sustainability and resilience, and the American Concrete Institute (ACI)—working with nearly 20,000 members, chapters, and partners around the world—is developing and disseminating the resources needed to improve the sustainable and resilient properties of our communities.

Responding to seismic activity, climate change, and other extreme events, encourages reflection alongside the expansion of state-of-the-art knowledge. The ACI membership is leading the concrete industry with development of this knowledge through a robust concrete sustainability technical committee focused on developing and reporting on concrete materials, construction, design, social issues, and certification. ACI has another technical committee focused on the structural integrity and resilience of concrete structures—working to identify collapse-resisting mechanisms, including proposed methods to increase functional and disaster-resilient design of structural components and systems.

During ACI’s seventh annual Concrete Sustainability Forum, held just weeks ago in Washington, D.C., the Institute provided an update on the evolving landscape of concrete sustainability and structural resilience. Examples of new sustainable and innovative concrete technologies from around the globe were highlighted, including CarbonCure’s efforts to sequester carbon dioxide, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Sustainable Pavements program, and more.  Thanks to thorough collaboration, communities around the world are becoming more sustainable and resilient.


LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.